The transition from college to university was an interesting one. Gone was my hour long commute into Cambridge, replaced with rolling out of bed to go to my lecture halls five minutes’ walk from my front door. It also meant I was doing things for myself only. I had already been cooking all the meals for my family (other African girls should relate) as well as having a part time job which meant I had a vague knowledge of how much things cost.
However, the biggest shock was how suddenly my friendship group dropped from a close group of 15-20 people who did everything together, to me now speaking to three people from college every other month to catch up on life.
Whether or not you have started university yet, you will have, or are already talking with you friends about how you’ll be the group who never drifts apart and talk like you always did for many years to come. Maybe you can and are, but I’m just saying to not look at it like a complete negative if the promised monthly meetups, become bi-monthly, then every few months, then just when you all happen to be back in your home town.
This may all sounds depressing and scary, which it is to begin with, especially when you haven’t made any strong friendships at uni and don’t have someone to turn moan about it with in the coffee shop opposite school because they went to uni three hours away from you. I faced this, even with my great first year flatmates and discovering clubbing, and chatting with my course mates, I couldn’t help but pine for my big friend group that went out for food every other day and had house parties whenever we could convince one of our parents. This new independent lifestyle was great, but I wish I had had the chance to share it with my old friends. In my first year I had very little money (hooray for accommodation pricing) and so did not visit a single one of my friends, unless I happened to be home, which was also more infrequent than I had anticipated.
I would recommend in first year, to try and focus on talking to the two/three friends from college/secondary school that you really got on with, that you had fantastic conversations with, and were comfortable to tell you worries. This will be a lifesaver when you start, and going through that with a tight-knit group will really help keep the relationship going for some years, even if you are unable to travel to visit one another as often as you would like (train tickets are very expensive these days!)
Always try to arrange to meet a friend over the holidays, not only does it give you a chance to meet and catch up with someone, but you may really be needing after a few days back at home! Even for a simple coffee and muffin for an hour or two will do wonders. Right now that sounds like so very little time compared to the 8 hours a day from college, and trust me it did feel really short, but looking back on it all it was those friends I met for a quick lunch every other month that I still talk to three years down the line.
However! There is a positive in all this, and that is even though your friendship group will likely shrink, the friends you do keep in contact with will be so very worth it as you will all be able to have not only a comfortable place to return to, but grow and develop in front of each other’s eyes. My three close friends from college have all changed so much, one is graduating this year and she really seems like a mini-adult and it floors me sometimes because the memory of the clumsy, awkward 16 year old stays strong in my mind! It also means that when I do meet my old friends, the meetings are just so much more meaningful than they used to be, chatting about goals and aspirations, instead of just day-to-day talk. Not that there is anything wrong with that kind of chatting (it’s most of what I do), but having a chance to put together all your achievements and issues in a more informal manner can really help with seeing how things are going for you that you may not take notice of each day.
So even if you notice that you don’t speak with as many of your friends, have no fear as the nature of your friendships will change as you grow and mature, meaning that certain relationships are better suited for people. Even if that means you just end up with a stronger group of friends from university or from work, or an extra-curricular you eventually pick-up, there is always going to be a change in dynamic and you’re going to really love it once you are ready to embrace it!